John Greig began his fifth season as manager of Rangers in August 1983. Levels of optimism were low, Jim Bett had left and returned to Belgian side, Lokeren. However, Ally McCoist had finally joined Rangers at the third time of asking. Sunderland had taken a considerable hit in accepting a £185,000 fee. Ally would go on to finish the season as Rangers top scorer on 21 goals, John Greig's season ended on the 28th October. In two months, he had lead Rangers to wining a Glasgow Cup, a 1-0 against Celtic in front of 60,000 at Hampden, the League Cup semi-finals, and secured a club European record victory over Valletta (18-0) in the first round of the European Cup Winners' Cup.
The clouds had been gathering, our start to the league season had seen one point secured from four games. Amid the plethora of cup victories, another four league matches had seen three wins and importantly a home loss to Aberdeen. Post match posses collected in front of the Main Stand. The week ahead saw Porto visit Ibrox for the second round ECWC first leg, Saturday would see Motherwell provide opposition for our ninth league fixture at the Stadium. Thirty-six thousand witnessed the Portuguese spirited defence. We started well, had a good first half and Sandy Clark notched several minutes before half-time. The second half was a grind, Porto were comfortable, and showed our attack down cul-de-sacs. A few long range efforts peppered the goal and we got lucky, a decent save was met on the rebound by our substitute the big Aussie, Dave Mitchell. We were two zip with five minutes to go. In the last minute, Peter McCloy made an appalling blunder, gifting Porto's Jacques a tap in. The concession of that goal proved extremely costly.
Rangers team that evening was : McCloy, Dawson, McClelland, McPherson, Paterson, Redford, Prytz, McCoist, Clark, Russell, and Cooper.
On the Saturday, the mighty Claret and Amber arrived, conceded a penalty scored by McCoist and then notched two second half goals themselves. The Posses reconvened in Edmiston Drive and Greig decided on a few days off to decide his future. We had seven points from a possible 18, and Hearts awaited midweek in the League Cup. Tommy McLean stood in and steered us to a 2-0 win. John Greig offered his resignation on the Friday and the Board accepted the inevitable. Calimero continued in the dug-out for the next day's visit to Love Street, there was no injustice, we were deservedly routed 3-0.
Sunday saw Alex Ferguson visit Ibrox, the Board offered him the opportunity to manage his boyhood heroes, and he accepted. He returned to Aberdeen to inform Dick Donald who offered the same terms as Rangers and promised a place on the Board. Fergie called Rangers next day and informed the club of his reverse decision. The joke at the time was his mistress, Jane Franchi did not fancy a move to Glasgow. How far were Rangers to fall?
The second leg of the ECWC tie was played at the Antas stadium on a rain soaked evening in front of 60,000. Tommy McLean put the team : McCloy, McKinnon, McClelland, Paterson, Dawson, McPherson Cooper, Russell, Prytz, Redford, and Clark to defend a most slender 2-1 lead, Again, a good first half, Cooper was deep on the right and was picking the passes. McCloy had made two wonderful saves from Porto's centre, Gomes. All square at half-time, but Porto kept coming in the second. Driven no doubt by the Club Chairman's incentive to pay a bonus of £1,600 to the scorer of the winning goal. Gomes claimed the only goal and the bounty. Most Bears thought the Big Gas Meter had a claim on that fee as we lost out on away goals.
Interestingly, Porto went on to the final of the ECWC that year, losing narrowly 2-1 to Juventus. Further, they dispatched Aberdeen in the semi-final 2-0 on aggregate. In the mean time, Fergie had refused the Arsenal job, still awaiting that promised elevation to the Aberdeen Board. Jane Franchi did not like London either.
Returning from Portugal, we faced Celtic at Ibrox and lost 1-2. Dundee United's manager was next offered the Ibrox hot seat and again, accepted. Walter Smith tells of donning a well worn Rangers scarf as Jim McLean told him he was accompanying him at the Stadium. Yep, Jim was sacking his younger brother, Tommy; then he spoke with long term Tannadice Director, George Fox, changed his mind and told Walter to remove his scarf. The turn of the year would see McLean turn down Newcastle United too.
Tommy's misery continued for a further two weeks, before the Board settled on a third choice Jock Wallace. We would go on to win the League Cup against Celtic, McCoist scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 victory. Wallace temporarily restored confidence and fitness levels, we went on a five month unbeaten run. He signed both Stuart Munro and Jimmy Nicholl, taking us to fourth in the league, finishing 15 points behind Champions, Aberdeen. It's been a recurring theme among older Bears, could an inspired Rangers have replicated Porto's journey to the final? We were definitely a cup team, added battle fever might have had us dreaming?
Thursday night's Europa Cup tie has none of the surrounding drama and I suspect the Gaffer will go with the team below should Ryan Jack be available. It's the Estadio do Dragao where we drew 1-1 fourteen years past in the Champions League. Ross McCormack scored the equaliser and that precious point saw us qualify for the last sixteen. I fancy Porto have a couple of goals in them, notwithstanding any Chairman's incentive. Hopefully, Morelos and one other can reply to secure another 2-2 draw?
Possible team (4-3-2-1)
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